Not surprisingly, the biggest race in the American League is situation in the East. The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball and were this close to getting Cliff Lee, a move that would have almost guaranteed another World Series title. Nevertheless, the New York pitching staff is all aces anyway, with C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and the ageless Andy Pettitte leading the charge.
The Yankee offense is as potent as ever, and the emergence of Robinson Cano as a legit contender for the batting title makes the team that much more dangerous. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox are still in the hunt, although it doesn’t seem like either of them will be able to top the Yankees for the division title. It’s much more likely that one of those two teams will earn the wildcard spot.
The biggest surprise in the AL comes in the West, where the Texas Rangers have the biggest divisional lead in baseball (4.5 games up on the Angels). The Rangers offense, led by Josh Hamilton and a rejuvenated Vlad Guerrero, is one of the most powerful in the majors. However it’s the pitching that has been the real eye-opener.
Even before their coup to land Lee last week, the Rangers staff ranked high in team-ERA; the addition of the former Cy Young winner will only make them better.
AL World Series Pick: New York Yankees
I’m betting that the divisional leaders won’t change at all from midseason to the playoffs. New York, Minnesota and Texas should all win their divisions, and Tampa Bay will sneak into the wildcard. The Yankees will to come out of the foursome on top because of hitting, pitching and experience.
All three division leaders at midseason are surprises to even the most talented baseball minds. The least surprising of the three is the Atlanta Braves atop the NL East. Although projected to be competitive, not many believed the Braves would be this good for this long.
The collapse of the Phillies starting rotation (outside of Roy Halladay) is also a factor in where Atlanta sits in the standings right now.
The NL Central, usually a pushover for the St. Louis Cardinals, has a new face at the top as well. The Cincinnati Reds had an impressive 3-game lead in the Central before losing four straight before the break, watching their divisional lead dwindle down to one. The team led by MVP-candidate Joey Votto may not have the pitching to last in the second half, although a very favourable schedule (one of the easiest in the NL) could help them reach the postseason.
But the biggest surprise in baseball belongs to the San Diego Padres in the NL West. Picked by many to be the worst team in the National League, the Padres have been in first place since May and currently hold a two game lead over Colorado and Los Angeles.
San Diego has the major’s best pitching staff and a penchant for big hits when they need them.
World Series Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
Contrary to the American League, I don’t see any division leader in the NL right now keeping that spot in season’s end. The Phillies and the Cardinals are too good to not win their respective divisions, and a late-season push by both teams is more likely to happen than the Reds and the Braves making the postseason.
I’m betting the Padres lose their lead because their offense is just not good enough; when their pitching hits a rough patch (and it inevitably will) the offense won’t be able to carry it to enough wins to fend off the rest of the division. Out of the three, Atlanta has the best chance for a wild card, although both LA and Colorado could challenge them.
St. Louis, with strong pitching and Albert Pujols, are the best bet to go all the way.
MLB Betting World Series Pick: New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals in six games
Poolside Rants hails from beautiful Bozeman Montana by way of Toronto, Canada. (Blame his wife for the move). He’s a Dallas Cowboys football honk. But please….don’t hold that against him. The man knows his sports and has uncanny knowledge when it comes to picking games.